University of Oregon

Department of the History of Art and Architecture

Mission Statement

The Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Oregon is a community that is committed to promoting inclusive excellence, fostering institutional fairness and equality, and cultivating a safe and respectful environment for students, faculty, and staff.

In our department, the discipline of art history develops visual literacy and analytical skills that are critical to success in any number of professions. The study of this subject prepares students specifically for professional opportunities in the arts and beyond, exposes them to the value and diversity of cultural expression in general, and trains them to think critically about problems in the arts and in our global society—thereby becoming active and informed citizens of Oregon, the nation, and the world. These goals are keeping with the mission of the University of Oregon.

Art history is an incredibly versatile and interdisciplinary field, requiring knowledge of the historical, literary, philosophical, religious and political contexts of art and architecture. Our undergraduate program trains students for a variety of art-based professions in museums, galleries, cultural institutes, archives, and schools. They are also provided with the foundation to undertake graduate studies in art history. Furthermore, our graduate programs guide emerging scholars toward advanced careers in higher education, museum curation and direction, library and information science, art law, and more.

More broadly, the student of art history acquires competencies invaluable to many professions, including oral and written communication skills, creative thinking, and critical analysis. Regular encounters with visual, written, and spatial evidence—and the ability to synthesize these diverse forms of knowledge into a larger conceptual framework—foster students’ ability to make sense of diverse data comfortably, quickly, and effectively.

Given its focus on visual culture, the study of art history counters prejudice by offering an understanding of different cultures, values, and the broad spectrum of human creativity and expression. By nurturing a curiosity about cultural differences, our courses, programs, and faculty prepare students to correlate chronologically remote, specific, and local events with contemporary, universal, and global phenomena.

The Department of the History of Art and Architecture is a fulcrum of such diverse disciplines as architecture, art, landscape architecture, planning, and public policy, all of which reside in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (A&AA). At the University of Oregon, owing to the interrelatedness of history, theory, and practice within A&AA, art history emerges as a vibrant profession that embraces emerging technologies and mass media.

Finally, as with all the humanities, art history promotes cultural knowledge, which counts among the rights and responsibilities of individuals in a free society. Our mission is to train students for lifelong learning and appreciation of the arts so that they may become guardians and advocates for culture and the arts within Oregon, the United States, and the world.